3 Embroidery Methods

Hand Embroidery, Machine Embroidery and Commercial Embroidery

Embroidery is not embroidery. According to Wikipedia and other sources, “embroidery is the ornamentation of fabric using needlework”, but how that needle is used is very, very different.

Hand embroidery is basically what your Grandmother did (depending on how old you are!). The way hand embroidery is usually done is to use a fabric pen or some other method to draw a temporary design on a piece of fabric, then follow that design along with a needle and thread. Fancier hand embroidered designs will use multiple colors, layers and even different kinds of thread to get the right look. The easiest example of this is needle point, where you are given a design already printed onto fabric, and then you simply embroider the design in a paint-by-numbers fashion.

Cheap to do – just needle and thread.

Machine Embroidery is when you use a device to sew/embroider rather than doing it by hand. This is a good time to point out the difference between sewing and embroidering. When you sew, you are assembling or repairing, like when you rip your pants or sew a button on. Embroidering is using the same thread to make a decorative design instead.

So a consumer embroidery machine, like one from Janome, or Brother for example, looks and acts just like a sewing machine. The difference is that with machine embroidery you have to have the ability to load a design into the machine to embroider. You’re not moving the fabric through by hand; the machine is automatically creating the design in its memory.

You’ll spend $3K to $9K on a good consumer embroidery machine.

commercial embroidery machines

commercial embroidery machine

Commercial Embroidery Machines are much more advanced and robust than the consumer versions, but it’s basically the same process. Some reputable providers of commercial embroidery machines include SWF from www.swfeast.com, and Barudan. Here are some differences:

  • More needles – single head embroidery machines in this category usually have 15 needles, or the ability to embroider in 15 colors on one design – imagine doing that by hand! Most consumer level machines can only do one.
  • Better software – commercial embroidery machines come with design and digitizing embroidery software, like Sierra Stitch Era, for you to create your own designs.
  • Faster – professional machines will do up to 1000 stitches per minute, consumer machines less than ½ that.
  • Reliability – commercial embroidery machines are designed to run all day every day. A consumer machine is made to do occasional work.

Commercial or professional machines start at about $14K.

If you’re doing home embroidery, you’re an artist! If you want to go into business, you may want an commercial embroidery machine.